Part I: Research

January 15: Architecture and Plumbing


  1. What do we call you?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. What brings you here?
  4. Degree program, area of specialty
  5. Where do you want it to take you?
  6. Research interests?
  7. Digital tools you use: Word processing, databases, electronic communication, email, instant messaging, website, blog . . .
  8. Areas of the course that most interest you?
  9. Project ideas?


January 22: Varieties of Digital History


Cohen, Daniel J., and Roy Rosenzweig. Digital history : a guide to gathering, preserving, and presenting the past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006: "Introduction," Chapter 1: "Exploring the History Web"

Phil Agre, "Designing Genres for New Media: Social, Economic, and Political Contexts"

Jeremy Boggs, But I Want You to Think!

Kenneth M. Price, “Edition, Project, Database, Archive, Thematic Research Collection: What's in a Name?” 3, no. 3 (Summer 2009),


Set up a blog by Monday evening, Jan 18. You can use any system you want: most digital humanties folks favor Wordpress or Blogger. Once you've set up your blog, e-mail me the URL, and I'll add you to the course blogroll.

Install Zotero.


Website Surveys
Look over the following sites, and pick four on which to spend a significant amount of time. Make selections that help you think about "genre" in digital history. Please inform me of any sites you'd like to add to the list and the site on which you will focus your review by

Write and post to your blog an evaluation (500-1000 words) of one these sites, using the Journal of American History evaluation guidelines and, where relevant, drawing on some of the week's reading. Note especially the questions in the key areas of content, form, audience/use, and new media. The review assignments from our Jan. 15 meeting are in parentheses.


Reverse-engineer one of these websites. Cohen and Rosenzweig, Digital History Chapters 2 & 4 can get you started. Some things to think about:
  • Are the pages static or dynamic? If dynamic, what kind of scripting language(s) are being used?
  • How (if at all) does the site use CSS?
  • What kinds of multimedia elements are used?
  • How well does the navigation function?
  • Is there a database backend somewhere? How do you know?


January 29: The Future of Historical Narrative


One of the following:

  • David Staley, Computers, Visualization, and History (2003), introduction and chapter 4, ER.
  • Keith Jenkins, "Introduction: on being open about our closures," in Jenkins, ed., The Postmodern History Reader (1997), ER.
  • George Landow, Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Amplified, updated version of Chapter One (1996). (Just read "Hypertextual Derrida, Poststructuralist Nelson?"; "The Definition of Hypertext and Its History as a Concept:" and "Predictions.")


Look up a historical topic of your choice in Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, and in one of the following internet search engines: Google, Yahoo, Excite,, Alta-Vista, or Compare three digital treatments of your topic with a more conventional scholarly source, such as a journal article, monograph, or textbook. Use your blog to reflect on how the strengths and weaknesses of these resources illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of our core readings.

The undergraduate exercise I mentioned in class can be found at I followed this up with an in class small group exercise using this worksheet.


February 5: Databases, Small: Organizing Your Research

Guest: Kalani Craig

Moderator: Erika Dowell

Do the following tasks in the order you think most likely to help you figure out how to use a database in your own work. Your blog this week should comment on the resources you found most helpful for this undertaking, or which you think most likely to be of use to others. Please include links to any internet resources you explored. The diagram assigned under "creative work" can be done with paper & pencil.


  1. An article or monograph from your field, looking specifically for clues as to how the historian collected and organized information. Questions to ask as you read include:
    • Do you think a database was used? Why/Why not?
    • What kind of impact do (or could) digital tools have on this history?
    • Could (or did) they improve the piece?
    • Would (or did) the use of digital resources alter the kind of questions being asked?
    • If a database or other new media are already employed, could the work have been done without them?
  2. Additional models of historical writing that used digital tools to organize and analyze sources. Read as much as needed to develop ideas for your own project. The following are examples from my field:
  3. Kalani Craig's digital portfolio
    1. Lives of bishops on her website
    2. Blog post on research tools
  4. Data mining:
    1. Investigate the Old Bailey archives and review Bill Turkel (Digital History Hacks May - July 2008) & Dan Cohen / CHNM "Scholarship in the Age of Abundance: Enhancing Historical Research with Text-Mining and Analysis Tools", NEH grant applicationon in OnCourse Resources.
    2. Turkel, Bill. Teaching Young Historians to Search, Spider and Scrape. December 26, 2005.
  5. A resource that will introduce you to the technical concepts and language of database development.

Creative Work

    1. Identify a source from your own research that you think would benefit from organization in a database.
    2. Investigate at least three efforts to digitize similar sources. I've listed below some of the resources we discussed in class. You are encouraged to add other examples from your own web searches.
      • For diaries:
      • For newspapers:
        • Go to the IUB Libraries home page and search their site for "newspapers." The Early American Newspapers & African American Newspapers (Accessible Archives) will be among the top results, but there are many others.
        • Compare these with Lexis Nexis.
        • Find another example on the web.
    3. Make a diagram depicting the different kinds of information found in your source, and the different ways in which they might connect to each other. Bring this to class.


February 12: Databases, Large - Commercial Resources

Guest: Celestina Wroth, IUB Research Librarian

Moderator: Allison Fredrickson

Overview from Celestina:

"My inclination for next week is to focus on how we use (or make useable) these immense collections of digitized materials. The kinds of metadata-centered approaches that librarians and archivists are advocating, are, I think, what historians would ideally like to see, but it also seems that these approaches don't easily scale up to the sheer quantity of material out there, and people like Gregory Crane think they're hopelessly outdated relics of the print world."



Optional from last time:

Sandler, Mark. "Academic and Commercial Roles in Building 'the Digital Library'." Collection Management; 2003, Vol. 28 Issue 1/2, p107-119.


Creative Work

Choose a specialized online archive and review it carefully. Then do a search for similar sources in Google Books. Post on blog ("archives/research" and your name) an idea for a historical research and writing project based on the particular archive that could not be carried out--or at least not carried out easily--with a print-based archive. Comment briefly on the structure, interface, search, and presentation of sources. Is this a well-structured and user friendly archive? Comment also on any digital tools (for search and discovery or analysis and organization or presentation and display) that would make it easier for you to complete that research and writing project. How does Google books fit into your research plan? Could it be a substitute for the more specialized archive? Does it supplement it?

The project doesn't need to be based exclusively on the online resources but they should be a central feature. The goal of the exercise and the reading for this week is to think about whether (and, if so, how) research and writing will be different in the digital era.

Possible On-line Archives: [2010 Students - please pick an archives that suits your research needs]

All available through history electronic resource list:

Evans Digital Edition
Sabin Americana 1500-1926 (Erika)
Early American Newspapers
ProQuest Historical Newspapers (Anya)
Acta Sanctorum
Library of Latin Texts (Carly)
Defining Gender Online
Making of Modern Law

Perseus Project (Adam)

Bibliothèque National de France’s (BnF) digital library Gallica (Erin)

British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries (Allison)

Aquifer American Social History on Line (Liz)

Emergence of Advertising in America

The Library Resource Page for my Marriage & the Nation class links to the archives I know best.



February 19: Digitization

Guest: Angela Courtney, IU Digital Libraries Project


Finish Cohen and Rosenzweig, Digital History, Chapters 2-6.

Boggs, “Digital Humanities Design and Development Process” series.


Victorian Women Writer's Project

Willett, Perry. "The Victorian Women Writers Project: The Library as a Creator and Publisher of Electronic Texts," Public-Access Computer Systems Review 7.6 (1996): 5-16

creative work:

Please post a question for our visitor by Tuesday of next week.

You can use your blog to reflect on the genre / research issues raised by the VWWP's history history and forthcoming upgrade. You can also use this as an opportunity to update us and ask questions about your own class project.


Jerome McGann, “Marking Texts of Many Dimensions,” in Companion to Digital Humanities (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture), ed. Ray Siemens, John Unsworth, and Susan Schreibman, Hardcover., Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Professional, 2004),



Thursday, February 25: Digital Humanities and Digital History

Joint Meeting with Ellen McKay's Class, 2:30-5:30, location TBA. We'll podcast this for those with conflicts.

Guest: Professor John Walsh

Moderator: Adam Olsen


reading / exercises:



March 5: Oral History and Film

Guest: Professor Jeff Gould

Moderator: Anya Quilitszch

Reading: Chapters from Jeff Goudl, To Rise in Darkness: Revolution, Repression, and Memory in El Salvador, 1929-32, Duke University Press, 2008. (see email message from instructor)


Oral History Association

Making Sense of Oral History

Indiana University Center for the Study of History and Memory,

The Rutgers Oral History Archives: (recommended by Anya)

Historical Voices

Washington State's African-American Oral History Collections

Review by Trevor James Bond


National Archives


March 12: Copyright / Conversation about Final Projects


Cohen, Daniel J., and Roy Rosenzweig. Digital History, Owning the Past

Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture, chapter ten ("property"), which is available for free download at

Lawrence Lessig, For the Love of Culture Google, copyright, and our future., The New Republic, January 26, 2010

Pilgrim, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain this to you.”


Creative Commons:

IU Copyright Center:


Unsworth, John. “The Next Wave: Liberation Technology.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 50, no. 21 (January 30, 2004).

Copyright Office Report on Orphan Works, particularly “Executive Summary” and “Description of Orphaned Works”

Creative Work:

In your blog, please comment on the readings, but it should also outline your plans for your final project.

Pedagogy and the Public

March 26: Spatial History

Guest: David Bodenhamer, Director, Polis Center


David Bodenhamer, Book Chapters (via email) and The Spatialization of History (OnCourse Resources)

Bill Turkel, Place-Based Computing



Play with Google maps. Build a custom map for use in your research or teaching.

If you find additional resources / readings in your exploration, please send updates via email. (I know this site is so Web 1.0).

VCDH The Emancipation Project


April 2: Digital Pedagogy

Guest: Jim Capshew,

Moderator: Tara Saunders


Cohen, Dan and Roy Rosenzweig. “No Computer Left Behind.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Feb. 24, 2006).
Kelly, T. Mills. “For Better or Worse? The Marriage of Web and the History Classroom.” Journal of the American Association for History and Computing 3, no. 2 (August 2000).

Pace, David. “The Amateur in the Operating Room: History and the Scholarship of Teaching.” American Historical Review 109, no. 4 (October 2004).

HASTAC blogs re: pedagogy - explore this:



April 7 - Erika Dowell, Digital Library Brown Bag on Omeka at the Lilly

April 9: Project Week - No Class


April 16: Poster Sessions - Meet from 9:00 - 12.


April 23: Project Week - No Class

April 30: Practicing History in a Digital Age

Guest: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, 300th Anniversary Professor, Harvard University, 2009 AHA President



Creative Work:

Write and submit to the Wikipedia ( an original entry for a topic that interests you but that is not yet dealt with in the Wikipedia; or make a substantial intervention in one or more exisiting entries. Then write and post in your blog a discussion of why you chose the entry or entries you chose, how writing for the Wikipedia was difficult or easy, which other topics you created links to, and what responses you received.

In addition, observe and comment on another online historical community of your choosing.